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The winners and losers from India’s men’s central contracts for 2023-24

The BCCI have announced the Indian men’s central contracts for the 2023-2024 season and here are the biggest winners and losers from the annual retainership.
by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

The BCCI have announced the Indian men’s central contracts for the 2023-2024 season. Here are the biggest winners and losers from the annual retainership.

A total of 30 players have been handed annual contracts by the BCCI, up from the 26 given out last year. There’s also a new fast bowling contract introduced, with five quicks benefitting.

Find the list of players to get the BCCI central contract this year here.

The winners

Rajat Patidar

The BCCI has confirmed the criteria for a Grade C contract: Athletes who have played a minimum of three Tests or eight ODIs or 10 T20Is will automatically be included in Grade C on a pro-rata basis. This has hugely benefited Patidar, who has played exactly three Tests thus far. Having made his debut against England in Visakhapatnam, Patidar has not been able to leave a mark in the series as of yet. In six innings, he has a high score of 32 with four single-digit scores that also include two ducks.

Shivam Dube

Dube has been given a Grade C contract after playing seven T20Is in the last year, which came against Ireland (two), Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan (four). Dube was picked for India after a gap of three years to play for the second-string squad in the tour of Ireland and then for the Asian Games in China. He had brilliant couple of seasons in the IPL where he scored 707 runs at a strike rate of 157.46 and was picked for the home series against Afghanistan this year as a like-for-like replacement for injured Hardik Pandya.

Mukesh Kumar

It is hard to think Mukesh would have played many games if India had their first-choice seam bowling attack available at all times. Mukesh made his India debut on the tour to West Indies last year and has since played three Tests, six ODIs and 14 T20Is with little impact. He averages 43.40 in 50-over cricket and 34.33 in T20Is, giving away 9.39 runs an over. In Tests, Mukesh has seven scalps but has looked insipid on occasions.

The fast bowlers – Akash Deep, Vijaykumar Vyshak, Umran Malik, Yash Dayal, Vidwath Kaverappa

The BCCI has introduced fast bowling contracts for five pacers, Akash Deep, Vijaykumar Vyshak, Umran Malik, Yash Dayal and Vidwath Kaverappa. While Akash recently made his Test debut for India in Ranchi and picked up three wickets in the first hour of play, Umran has made news for his high pace but has not played for India in seven months. Dayal, infamous for being the bowler when Rinku Singh hit him for five successive sixes in the IPL in 2023, is yet to make his India debut as are Kaverappa and Vyshak.

Kaverappa plays for Karnataka and has a List A average of 15.81 after 18 games, which falls to 12 in T20s. He also averages 20.08 in first-class cricket. Vyshak, who also plays for Karnataka, has a first-class bowling average of 23.50 in 20 games and a T20 average of 19.34. In List A, he has 34 wickets from 21 wickets and averages 29.38.

The losers

Several India discards – Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav

The India team is undergoing a transition and the BCCI central contracts make it evident. Pujara and Rahane, India’s Test regulars since their debuts in 2010 and 2013, respectively, might have played their last games for India already and have not found a place among the 30 players who earned contracts. Rahane was not given a contract last year but was still given a call-up for the World Test Championship final. A poor Ranji Trophy, however, seems to have shut the doors on him.

Pujara was in Grade B last year but has not been given a contract this time as Shubman Gill fills up his place at No.3.

Dhawan, Umesh and Chahal were given Grade C contracts for 2022-2023. But the trio have not featured for India recently and are no longer in contention and have, hence, not been given contracts.

Ishan Kishan

A lot has happened around Ishan Kishan in the last few months. A double centurion in ODIs, Kishan flew back home ahead of the South Africa Test series due to mental fatigue. Various reports suggest a dressing room showdown with Kishan seemingly frustrated with being on the bench for extended periods. He also seemingly irked the BCCI for skipping the Ranji Trophy even as his team Jharkhand struggled while he continued training with Hardik ahead of the IPL. Head coach Rahul Dravid has remained sealed on the controversies around Kishan, only stating that the left-hander would need to play domestic cricket to be in contention for India again.

READ: The Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan saga

Shreyas Iyer

The biggest miss. Iyer, who played a pivotal role in India’s run into the World Cup final last year, has reportedly not been given a contract after he refused to play in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final. Iyer, who played the first two Tests against England, was dropped from the squad thereafter, and, thus, available to play for Mumbai. Initial reports suggested Iyer had back spasms and was missing the quarters as a result, but according to The Indian Express, the NCA clarified Iyer was fit. With the BCCI coming down heavily on players skipping domestic cricket, Iyer was ignored for the central contracts.

What makes his absence a bigger talking point is that Iyer played in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy clash against Andhra in January this year, making 48.

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